UW's Postcard For Posterity Smells Rosy
Postcards from the edge of my seat.
It is maybe 3 p.m. and the temperature on the field is climbing past 100 degrees. Washington quarterback Mark Brunell is warming up and, frankly, he looks nervous. He bounces one pass. Overthrows another. He shakes his head. Claps his hands. He doesn't look sharp.
Forget the San Jose State and Purdue games, this is Brunell's real debut. The Pac-10 opener. The University of Southern California. He came to Washington for games such as this. Imagine how he feels. . . .
Early scenes as Washington pumps up the volume.
Second down on USC's first possession, a harbinger of the afternoon. Ricky Ervins, the latest in the long line of decorated USC tailbacks, is stopped cold by Steve Emtman.
Still on his knees, on the griddle that is the stadium floor, Emtman raises both fists and the crowd responds. The press box sways like Candlestick Park in an earthquake. Something's happening here.
Washington will hold USC to seven first downs, 163 total yards and no points in a 31-0 shocker. . . .
Freeze frames from the swelter of Husky Stadium.
Before yesterday, sophomore guard Lincoln Kennedy was just another huge purple shirt. A 325-pound question mark. He was bigger than some of the buildings on campus. He could block out the sun, but could he block defensive tackles and ends and spring holes for Greg Lewis?
But today he whirls away from the line of scrimmage. Huge No. 75 is the lead blocker on Brunell's 10-yard first-quarter scramble.
Later he throws the key block on a 67-yard screen pass to Lewis. Before yesterday, he was an empty ``Fridge.'' Against USC, he arrives. . . .
And the Trojan band moaned on.
When was the last time USC had minus-15 yards rushing in a half? When was the last time bionic quarterback Todd Marinovich completed only three passes in a half? When was the last time a USC team looked this impotent?
Sketches from the Washington gallery of fine quarterbacks - Sixkiller, Chandler, Flick, Conklin and Heinrich.
He looked so nervous in pregame practice, but is so calm and controlled in the game. Mark Brunell completes four straight passes - 15 yards to Mario Bailey, 12 to Orlando McKay, 19 to Lewis and 15 more to Bailey in a 66-yard drive for the first touchdown.
The Trojan defensive backs, so concerned with Brunell's scrambling ability, are committing too early and Brunell is finding his receivers as open as the mouth of Columbia River.
He looked anxious against San Jose State and Purdue. He looks awesome against USC. He threw for only 66 yards against San Jose State. He repeatedly tripped over center Ed Cunningham's feet at Purdue. He is 12 for 23 for 197 yards in his Pac-10 debut. . . .
Portraits in frustration.
Marinovich dances anxiously in the pocket. He wants to go deep, but Husky cornerbacks Charles Mincy and Dana Hall are running stride-for-stride with USC flankers Gary Wellman and Travis Hannah. He looks, instead, to tight end Frank Griffin, but the pass is almost intercepted by ubiquitous linebacker Chico Fraley.
Late in the first half, a USC drive begins with an illegal-procedure call. Marinovich recovers his fumble on first down. He is sacked on second down. A personal foul is called on one of his linemen. It is third-and-39 and Marinovich looks as out of place as a spotted owl in new growth timber.
By the beginning of the fourth quarter the devastation is so complete that Marinovich is yanked for senior Shane Foley. Marinovich is 7 of 16 for 80 yards, with two interceptions. . . .
Continuing statements from the defense.
USC trails 24-0 as the second half begins. Marinovich starts from his 28. He has 30 minutes to rescue this foundering mess. Plenty of time.
He play-action fakes and rolls right. Before he can set his feet to throw, he is swallowed by Washington rushers Donald Jones and Travis Richardson.
Once again, the stadium rocks, the press box sways. There will be no Marinovich miracle today. . . .
And the Trojan band droned on.
Question: When was the last time USC was shut out? Answer: In 1985, a 24-0 loss to Arizona State. But that was a USC team going nowhere. The team that is shut out on this day is supposed to be in Pasadena on New Year's Day. . . .
Pages from an obscure chapter of Washington Coach Don James' playbook.
No, you aren't suffering from the 92-degree heat. Yes, that is Washington going for the first down on fourth-and-one from the Trojan 8.
Brunell, maybe the best ball handler on campus since former point guard Chester Dorsey, fakes into the line and rolls right. He scrambles 7 yards to the Trojan 1. Darius Turner scores on the next play.
OK, the score is 24-0 and James has little to lose by going for it, but remember this play. On another afternoon, in a closer game, on another fourth down, you may see it again. . . .
One final reel from this improbable hit.
The final seconds have ticked away. There is much dancing and hugging at midfield. Lewis, who already has run for 126 yards, makes one final sprint toward the stands, toward the Husky student section. Many of his teammates follow. He swings a fist in the air. Again and again and again.
Remember this one. Savor these pictures. This is a game that will be cheered and cherished for decades. This is a game you can ride to the Rose Bowl.
Steve Kelley's column usually is published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday in the Sports section of The Times.
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